The Inner Bark of July
Here at the inner bark of summer – halfway through July – a turning reflection: I am more than halfway through my CLM internship! My last day will be September 23rd, a date readily approaching at the speed of life we know to be expectedly incongruous. … today, a hopefully halfway reflective check-in from the land of Redwood, salt-breeze and changing fog!
I have been working mainly on collecting for Seeds of Success since my last blog post, enjoying greatly the cycles of phenology monitoring, seed collection and packaging, data completion, the final sending off to the Bend Seed Extractory. Being the one and only CLM intern at my field office, the joy of well-chosen companions in the field is not lost on me, and I have had a plenitude of this special joy over the past several weeks. Wildlife technicians, forest ecologists, and even the assistant field manager of the Arcata BLM Field Office have joined me on my seed collection missions! We build powerful connections not only to the people we work with but also to the work of others when we can take the time to commit to some inter-discipline-inner-office-cross-training.
At another intersection, seed collection connects us to the more-than-human world in a way that is practical, physical, and ancestral. We have all been seed collectors. Regardless of race, gender, or personal beliefs, when we gather we enter into a nutritive relationship based on mutual respect for the creatures from which we gather. Rather than extoll the personal, ecological, institutional and spiritual benefits of seed collection – I will encourage CLM interns to collect with intention, career-minded adults to advocate for seed collecting/banking/saving and all to pursue opportunities to collect seed! In the beautiful words of Hope Jahren (author of the lucid book Lab Girl): “A seed is alive while it waits. Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the three-hundred-year old oak tree that towers over it.” May we be fully alive while we collect and may the simple act of collection make us more alive.
Another entry from May 2016
The final part of all of this is the essential unity of engaging in stewardship. Unity that at this point in the trajectory of our species we deeply need. In undertaking stewardship — from Arcata BLM to BLM as a whole and on up to national and international, public and private institutions across the globe — we connect to the shared sustaining ground we all walk upon.
The Wonders of the Desert
I am stationed at the BLM office in Palm Springs, California where 3 deserts intersect: the Colorado, Sonoran and Mojave. I came here at the end of May from California’s north coast in Humboldt County, where the temperature stays a near constant 60 degrees F and redwoods tower over head.
When I accepted this position in Palm Springs I had no idea what I was in for. I feared a stark landscape resembling images I have seen on TV or the Sahara Desert in Africa. Endless sand dunes, toxic snakes and an unforgiving sun overhead that can make you lose your mind and maybe even your way. “Will I get lost out in the desert and die” I wondered.
After moving here and settling in to work I have begun to learn of all the riches that the desert has….
Yesterday I got to start my first SOS (Seeds of Success) collection. I learned that collecting native seed is quite an art in its self. One must know where to find the target population, when it will be going into seed, collect proper voucher specimens, and visit many individual plants to make an acquitted collection (a minimum of 50 individual plants is required). As you visit these plants and collect a few seeds from each one, you notice things that you would not otherwise stop to take the time and notice. Such as what animals stop to visit these plants, what the animals ate, and a little about their personal habits. You begin to know the plants themselves better too, what constitutes as a healthy (in this case) tree, and who may be struggling….
This work is so fascinating and I am learning so much. I am being pushed beyond my comfort zone (in coming to a harsh environment that I would not have imagined myself in this time last year). I am growing and learning in so many ways and I love it so much. I love the desert and I love the CLM internship.